When you think about what a job search entails, you probably envision what most job seekers do when they’re looking for new career opportunities. (Read: scour the internet for appealing positions and companies, email hiring managers a resume and cover letter and then anxiously await some sort of response.)
It’s less common for job seekers to seek opportunities by attending in-person events like career fairs, in part because they tend to be less convenient. The first time many professionals encounter a career fair is probably during on-campus recruiting season, when their college or university works with hiring companies to help place seniors and recent graduates in their first full-time, entry-level jobs.
However, even if you’re much further along in your career, it may be worth your while to attend a career fair to help accelerate your job search — particularly because you don’t have inconvenience as an excuse anymore.
Virtual career fairs are just what they sound like: candidates can connect directly with hiring managers or recruiters at potential employers during an entirely virtual event.
Whether the idea is new to you or you’re a career fair expert, here are five reasons you should consider attending a virtual career fair:
1. Virtual career fairs allow you to connect directly with insiders at companies you’re interested in.
If you're not yet well-connected to a particular employer and you don’t know someone who can make a recommendation on your behalf or pass along your resume to a hiring manager, a virtual career fair allows you “meet” a member of the recruiting team and make a positive impression. You may even be able to turn a virtual chat into an email conversation or phone screen interview if you handle the situation well.
2. Virtual career fairs can be much more targeted than traditional career fairs.
With digital career fairs, there is usually the ability to pre-qualify registrants who need to provide their resume and qualifications information before the event. This means you don’t have to worry as much that you’ll be milling around in a crowd of unqualified applicants and fighting for the attention you are due. Moreover, some employers specifically seek out underrepresented groups such as veterans or women in tech through virtual career fairs.
3. Virtual career fairs are cheaper than traditional career fairs... and way more convenient.
Thanks to technology, you can now digitally access job opportunities and recruiters at employers you are interested in without having to leave the comfort of your couch. You can also multitask and make the most of your time. If the conversations you’re having in digital chat rooms are not yielding great results, at least you didn’t invest a lot of time and money in traveling to a brick-and-mortar fair.
Employers, too, benefit from using virtual career fairs since the events, by definition, imply that HR teams don't have to incur travel and operating expenses involved in attending traditional brick-and-mortar career fairs. As the Society for Human Resource Management cites that sourcing, recruiting, and staffing every new hire costs, on average, $4,129, virtual career fairs are a scalable way for recruiters to reach new audiences.
4. You may be able to limit the biases that tend to accompany in-person events.
Fairygodboss research shows that due to unconscious (and conscious) biases, a female job seeker’s appearance can have a particularly negative impact on her success at networking events or in interviews. Because hiring managers often make assumptions or judgments based on job candidates’ appearances, making your first impression digitally may work to your advantage.
5. You work in an intrinsically digital area.
A virtual career fair may be particularly attractive to you if you work in technology, a digital field or are interested in remote job opportunities. An employer that is willing to recruit via an online career fair is probably more digitally sophisticated and open to flexible jobs or has open positions where technology skills are prized.